Children's Curriculum and a Little Boy's Lunch :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Children's Curriculum and a Little Boy's Lunch

Tiffany Parks
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As I think about my current ministry, I am reminded of the time Jesus fed over five thousand people with one small lunch. I feel like that boy who gave his lunch. It was just a few loaves and some fish. Surely there was someone with a better lunch to offer! Surely there is someone with more talent for this task! But God has shown me the need, has given me the burden for it, and then slowly led me into the project and brought others along to help. It seems as if I am watching the Lord take my small lunch and multiply it!

When I came to the Philippines, I planned to teach children, but I never imagined I would end up writing curriculum for children’s ministry. I still think there must be someone better at doing this and marvel that God is allowing me to do it. But recently, while watching my friend’s face light up as she flipped through the book I gave her, I was encouraged to continue this work.

This whole thing started from a desire to help the Philippine churches with their children’s ministries. As I taught children in my own church, visited other churches, and talked with friends from other areas, I became aware of some great needs. I learned that many churches had no curriculum. Because they didn’t have any lessons to follow, some churches were not even trying to teach the children. Many churches had just a few lessons and taught those same lessons over and over. Other churches left it to the teachers to come up with something to teach. Many started asking me for curriculum. I tried to help, but soon learned that there were few options available in the Philippines. Most churches could not afford to buy and ship curriculum from the US. So I began collecting used materials from supporting churches in the USA, but I never had enough to give to every church who asked. Using American curriculum also had other challenges, such as requiring workbooks or materials we didn’t have. There were many activities we couldn’t do because the supplies were unavailable here or were too expensive for the churches to buy. Some of the examples and illustrations were also not applicable to Filipino children. They needed something made for churches here and easily reproduced in the Philippines.

When a friend and her husband started a new church, she asked me to write some short lessons for her to use as a guide in teaching the children. I began writing simple outlines of Bible stories and sending them to her, along with free coloring sheets from the internet. I decided that maybe it would be helpful to turn these outlines into a book to help other churches as well. Others encouraged me to add even more to these lessons, but with all my other ministries, I didn’t have the time to focus on this project. I hoped that someone would take what I had done and improve on it someday. I prayed that God would burden someone to make children’s ministry materials for the Philippines. I didn’t have enough time or talent for this! That was in 2019.

Then in 2020, everything in the Philippines shut down. I returned to the US for what I thought would be a short time, but I could not get back into the Philippines. The country was closed, and my work visa could not be renewed. I continued to teach classes online in the Philippines, but my ministries had drastically changed. I began to realize that God had given me the time and opportunity to work on curriculum. He used my time in the US to bring others across my path to advise and help me as I began this project. What started out as a small project began to turn into a bigger one! Simple lesson outlines turned into plans for full lessons with activities, helps for teachers, a Bible memory program, and pictures that could be used as coloring sheets. I planned a three-year curriculum to go through the entire Bible and also a vacation Bible school curriculum. God has brought others along to help me with writing, drawing, and translating.

The first book of twelve lessons was published in May 2023, and the next two books are set to be finished by the end of this year. Not only has the project become bigger than I imagined, but the Lord is also expanding its reach! Book One is now being translated into Tagalog, so that it can be used by even more churches. The vacation Bible school materials are coming along and should be available in both English and Tagalog by next summer.

As friends from other places have heard about this project, many have told me that this is a need where they live as well. Some will be able to adapt this curriculum for use in their ministries. One missionary friend helped me write some lessons and is now taking on the task of developing children’s ministry curriculum for her own country of ministry. Another missionary took a copy of the first book to see if they could have someone translate it for use in their province. They also put a copy in their mission guest house for other pastors and missionaries to borrow. A Bible college student who is in the Philippines to study has expressed interest in taking the curriculum back to her home country. She wants to translate it into her language.

I am amazed as I watch what God is doing and humbled that He is taking my small offering and multiplying it in so many ways. As I heard my friend excitedly exclaim, “I can use all the activities in this book,” I was reminded that the time that I am putting into this project is not wasted. God is taking my small lunch and multiplying it! I pray that He will continue to use it and to burden others with the need to reach children around the world.